Chinese warship sets landmark voyage to Japan

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BEIJING, Nov 21 (Reuters) A Chinese warship today set sail on a landmark voyage to Japan in a further sign of warming relations between the two East Asian rivals and World War Two foes.

The missile destroyer ''Shenzhen'' left the southern port of Zhanjiang on a visit that the official Xinhua news agency described as ''a first in the history of the navy forces of the Chinese People's Liberation Army''.

The destroyer, named after the booming Chinese city of Shenzhen, would visit Japan from November 28 to December 1, Xinhua said. It did not say where it would dock.

Sino-Japanese relations had been cold in recent years, largely because of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's annual visits to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, seen by Beijing as a symbol of Japan's militarism during its 1939-45 invasion and brutal occupation of parts of China.

Ties have warmed since former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office last year and visited Beijing. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited Japan in April and Defence Minister Cao Gangchuan visited in August.

Reuters SG DB1007

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